Despite Covid disruption which saw production halted for four weeks during the first lockdown, Siddall and Hilton Products, the Brighouse-based welded steel mesh products manufacturer, has once again put in a strong financial performance with turnover only dropping slightly for the year ending 31 March 2021.
In the first full financial year since its MBO in 2019, Siddall and Hilton Products achieved turnover of £17.3m, compared with £18.2m the previous year – a fall of under five per cent. The company estimates that the impact of the pandemic accounted for around £2.5m in lost revenue.
However, thanks to the positive attitude, resilience and determination of staff this did not impact on the profits reported by the firm. Continued investment in equipment and process improvements through the pandemic helped the company to consolidate and build upon production efficiency gains and process scrap reductions achieved in the prior year, resulting in a significant uplift in pre-tax profits which rose by 64.7 per cent from £1.4m to £2.3m.
Siddall and Hilton Products also reported that much improved working capital management through investment in its ERP system had resulted in greater control over inventory levels, strengthened operational cash flows and reduced borrowing costs by 46 per cent.
2020-21 was another transformational year for the business as it marked its largest investment in more than 12 years with the addition of a fifth specialist welding machine at its Brighouse site. With a value of £2m, the new EVG LGR-102 runs over 40 per cent faster than the existing machines and produces up to 70 per cent less scrap.
Over the last 12 months, the 126-year-old company, which processes over 1,500 tonnes of wire a month and is the UK’s largest manufacturer of industrial welded steel mesh for high-security fencing, general fencing and industrial mesh panels, has also grown its workforce. The team has increased by almost 25 per cent to 59 people, including the recruitment of nine new trainee mesh operators and two apprentices since January, with a further three currently being sought.
Chief executive Ian Thurley said: “Over the last two years, we’ve made tremendous progress in setting solid foundations for our future growth. Last year was another busy time for us, which, despite the challenges of the pandemic, saw the business continue to put in a sound financial performance as we further improved operating efficiencies. As one of the largest employers in Brighouse, we have also worked hard to ensure our loyal workforce shares in our success by bolstering employee engagement, driving recruitment and implementing new training initiatives.
“We are tremendously proud of the major investment we have made into a fifth state-of-the-art welding machine which will again increase productivity and is a key step as we move towards our ambitious target of becoming a world class mesh manufacturer. As one of the area’s longest-established manufacturers, it is a real privilegeto be at the helm during this exciting time, as we drive the business forward in pursuit of our goals.”